|By definition, a
construct in Personal Construct Psychology
is a way of
seeing two or more things or persons as similar, and at the same time
from the third. It is an abstraction whereby people make
discriminations among the
events that they encounter in their daily lives. Constructs then become
basis for predictions about current and future experiences and,
channel behavior in particular directions.
are based on an individual’s life-time of discriminations
and, as such, are idiosyncratic, varying from person to person (individuality).
Kelly (1955) proposed that every construct was bipolar
(e.g. good vs. bad) because it
encompasses both the awareness of similarity and
awareness of difference. This can be illustrated by comparison to the
with which "construct" is sometimes confused, the term "concept" in
logic. The opposite of a concept is formed by adding the prefix "not"
existing word (e.g. the opposite of man
is not-man). By contrast, the
opposite of a construct is determined by the use of the relevant
gives this whole bipolar dimension its specific meaning (e.g. for one
the opposite of man is woman, which
gives this dimension the
meaning relevant to gender difference; for another the opposite of man is God, which encompasses the
relates to divinity, and yet for another
person the opposite of man is child,
which gives the meaning of
maturity to the whole dimension). Therefore, the meaning of any
not determined by one of its poles, but by the dialectical relationship
them, with each essential to the meaning to the other.
are several commonly made errors concerning constructs. First
there is the assumption that they are words. When we engage in construct
elicitation we most commonly obtain verbal markers of the
discriminations that are being made, but these words are not synonymous
the discrimination. Constructs may be non-verbal (see preverbal constructs), as in the
discriminations of young infants or when one pole of the
construct may not be readily accessed (submergence).
construct is not the mere representation of existing entities. Rather
it is the
result of the imposition of meaning on raw sensory experiences, which
otherwise be too homogenous to allow for effective prediction of
such it is a creation, not the automatic reflection of reality.
The term construct in PCP
carries a different meaning to the same
term in mainstream psychology - where it is used to refer to an entity
ascribed to more than one object as a result of previous scientific